About Housing First
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Housing First is an approach to ending homelessness that centers on providing people experiencing homelessness with housing as quickly as possible – and then providing services as needed. This approach has the benefit of being consistent with what most people experiencing homelessness want and seek help to achieve.
Housing First programs share critical elements:
- A focus on helping individuals and families access and sustain permanent rental housing as quickly as possible without time limits;
- A variety of services delivered to promote housing stability and individual well-being on an as-needed basis;
- A standard lease agreement to housing – as opposed to mandated therapy or services compliance.
Housing is a basic human right, not a reward for clinical success. Once homelessness is eliminated from a person’s life, clinical and social stabilization occur faster and is more enduring.
Seven standards of the Housing First approach:
- Move people into housing directly from streets and shelters without preconditions of treatment acceptance or compliance.
- Provider is obligated to bring robust support services to the housing. These services are predicated on assertive engagement, not coercion.
- Continued tenancy is not dependent on participation in services.
- Units targeted to most disabled and vulnerable homeless members of the community.
- Embrace a harm reduction approach to addictions rather than mandating abstinence. At the same time, the provider must be prepared to support resident commitments to recovery.
- Residents must have leases and tenant protections under the law.
- Can be implemented as either a project-based or scattered site model.
Housing First in Corvallis
Corvallis Housing First looks to meet the needs of local citizens who are homeless and at risk of being homeless regardless of how challenging it may be to meet these needs. Many of the people we serve have been chronically homeless for many years and are afflicted with physical and mental illnesses along with drug and alcohol dependancy.
As a result, we enthusiastically endorse Housing First as an intervention strategy that can greatly diminish homelessness. Locally, this strategy has demonstrated rapid and dramatic results.
Housing First programs reflect the fact that homeless persons are more responsive to interventions and support when in permanent housing, rather than while experiencing a homelessness crisis.
The typical Housing First approach has four primary stages:
- Crisis intervention and short-term stabilization, including access to emergency shelter services and/or short term transitional housing.
- Screening, assessment and planning for particular needs, when enrolled persons agree to work with a case manager after they move into permanent housing.
- Provision of housing resources to obtain and maintain permanent housing, preferably in a
residential neighborhood setting.
- Provision of home-based case management before and after the move to help clients adjust to stable living patterns and establish links to community-based resources.
This is the preferred model in the Benton County Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness chaired by Jay Dixon.
Resources: Many jurisdictions across the country have adopted the Housing First approach. The National Alliance to End Homelessness coordinates a network for communities interested in exploring and adopting a Housing First model. For more information, visit http: www.naeh.org/section/tools/housingfirst
Housing First has been supported by:
- The City of Corvallis- Operational Funding
- Benton County Sheriff’s Department- Operational Funding
- Corvallis Police Department- Operational Funding
- Corvallis Sustainability Coalition- Operational Funding
- Samaritan Health Services- Operational Funding
- Several hundred Volunteers from eighteen different religious communities and service organizations